Students Leaning Toward Technical Schools

GLEN DALE – While holding a pack of brochures in one hand, John Marshall High School junior Katie Mencer looked around at the school’s crowded gym.

“I had no idea this would be so packed,” she said.

Mencer was one of hundreds of students from John Marshall, Cameron, Bishop Donahue and Shadyside High School to attend the 20th annual Marshall County College and Career Fair Friday at John Marshall High School. Open to the public, the fair hosts representatives from over 80 colleges, universities, technical schools and training programs to help students begin their search for colleges and careers after high school.

For Mencer, this meant getting an idea of which schools offer a good childhood education program to which she could apply next year.

“Before the fair, I had no idea where I wanted to go,” Mencer said. “Today, I’ve talked to Wheeling Jesuit, Bethany and some other colleges, so this was a good opportunity to see what’s out there.”

According to Marilyn Wehrheim, school counselor at JMHS, the fair had its largest response since its beginning, adding it is one of the few high school fairs sponsored in West Virginia. Representatives ranging from BB&T, the West Virginia Department of Rehabilitation, the US Air Force and many colleges and universities attended the event.

Although engineering and medical fields seem to lead the way every year in terms of student interest, Wehrheim said post-secondary technical programs booths are drawing in more and more students.

“New programs like mechatronics are growing quickly,” Wehrheim said. “These technical careers are growing faster now than four-year degrees. I know personally, I want the same qualifications for someone to become a mechanic who fixes my brakes as much as the surgeon operating on me. To me, it’s just as important.”

Brenda King, associate dean of enrollment services at West Liberty University, said the fair is great opportunity for both students to explore as well as for colleges to get the word out on their programs.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to see a large variety of different options,” King said. “Where else can you get all this information in just a few hours?”

In addition to providing students with information, representatives attending the fair donated hats, sweatshirts and other memorabilia to to give to students attending the Cameron and John Marshall after-prom parties.

The event was sponsored by Cameron and John Marshall High Schools, West Liberty University, West Virginia Northern Community College and Wheeling Jesuit University.